The business case for the SDGs

Lebanese women entrepreneurs
Image credit: UN Women / Flickr

While overall responsibility for the SDGs lies with national governments, they cannot be achieved without a concerted effort by business and organisations.

That's the finding from a new report, published yesterday by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and the professional accountancy body ICAS, in partnership with the Green Economy Coalition.

The report, authored by risk and governance expert Professor Carol A. Adams, provides a framework for embedding sustainable development issues into an organisation’s strategy, decision making and business model. It takes reporting organisations through five steps aligned with the value creation process of the International <IR> Framework.

It provides practical guidance on implementation and is underpinned by a conceptualisation informed by research. It sets out how each step is informed by the International <IR> Framework. The steps provide a framework for thinking about sustainable development risks and opportunities in developing strategy. It will help organisations protect themselves from risk and help identify opportunities – both important in long-term value creation. This makes good business sense.

Following the report’s framework will help organizations that prepare integrated reports in: 

  • bringing consideration of SDGs into mainstream thinking, strategizing, decision making and reporting; 
  • developing integrated thinking that recognises the risks and opportunities posed by natural resource limitations and other sustainable development considerations; 
  • identifying solutions that are consistent with sustainable development and which optimise value creation across multiple capitals without depleting capitals which are essential for global sustainable development; 
  • communicating the relevance of sustainable development to value creation and to an organization’s sustainable development outcomes; 
  • bringing consideration of SDGs into mainstream thinking, strategising and reporting; 
  • managing the complexity imposed by sustainable development challenges; and, 
  • informing and challenging institutionalised practices and frameworks of government, education and business.

Report details: Adams, C A (2017) ‘The Sustainable Development Goals, integrated thinking and the integrated report’, published by IIRC and ICAS. The project was funded by ICAS and authored by Carol Adams. It was guided by a joint ICAS-IIRC Steering Committee and an Advisory Committee and was supported by the Green Economy Coalition. 

Image credit: "Lebanon - women preserve tradition" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by UN Women Gallery

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